But, what I'd like to see is a return to more expansive adventures. With SNES and PlayStation-era RPGs, there was a tendancy in going from walking around a small town to having the world at your fingertips. Either with Airships or other expanded transit systems, you'd broaden your horizons as you progressed. Now, there's just too much emphasis on realistic travel, that while you can travel across the world at the end, it's nto worth it because it will take you forever and a day. Tales is one of the few series that still does it right, but Final Fantasy lost it at FFX.
I disagree with you there. I think non-linearity is vastly-overrated in RPGs, which I think should be far more story-driven. Fully-explorable world maps are a bit overrated, as well, and in some instances unrealistic (come on, you don't become a 40-foot giant when you leave town). I personally think FFX (whose story I thought was a giant step above FF9's) and the Digital Devil Saga dilogy are decent examples of good story-driven RPGs.